When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.

eyes on the U.S.

U.S. Minimum Wage - Compare It To The Rest Of World

President Obama used his State of the Union address to declare his determination to raise the U.S. minimum wage above 10 dollars. Wage policy in the rest of the world may surprise you.

A welder in an Indian factory
A welder in an Indian factory
Julie Farrar

WASHINGTOND.C. — President Barack Obama has called on Congress to raise the federal minimum wage, the centerpiece proposal in Tuesday's State of the Union address that focused on economic inequality in America.

Pointing out that the current minimum of $7.25 is nearly 20% lower in real spending power than it was 25 years ago, he urged legislators to support a bill that would bring the national rate to $10.10.

Republicans are on the record opposing any increase to the minimum wage. "When you raise the cost of something, you get less of it," Speaker of the House of Representatives, John Boehner, told a news conference.

But it might surprise you to learn that many other countries, including those considered more progressive than the U.S. on economic policy, don’t have any minimum wage. Norway, Sweden and Denmark, who consistently top the lists of happiest places to live, don’t have a standard minimum.

Map via Creative Commons

Even Germany, backbone of the European economy, has only just recently proposed to phase in an 8.50 euros ($11.6) an hour minimum by January 2017 because of demands from the center-left SPD during coalition negotiations with Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Egypt’s interim military-led government announced last week that it would implement new minimum income regulations in an attempt to quell protesters demanding social justice, increasing it up to some $172 per month.

Iran’s figures are higher than those of Bulgaria and Romania, both EU member states ($2.1 per hour compared to $1.34 and $1.46 respectively), but the lowest, according to the official minimum wage rates of the UN members, is Uganda where workers can legally earn $0.01 hourly.

[rebelmouse-image 27087768 alt="""" original_size="500x332" expand=1]

A bean field in Kawanda, Uganda. Photo by CIAT International Center for Tropical Agriculture via Flickr

On the other end of the scale, the five countries with the highest hourly minimum wages are Australia ($16.88), Luxembourg ($14.24), Monaco ($12.83), France ($12.22), and Belgium ($11.69).

India has more than 1,200 different minimum wage policies, varying from state to state and sector to sector. According to website paycheck.in, the National Floor Level of Minimum Wage has been raised to $1.84 per day. Locally set in China, it ranges from $1.23 in the Guangxi province to $2.51 in Beijing.

[rebelmouse-image 27087769 alt="""" original_size="640x427" expand=1]

A star anise farm in Guangxi, China. Photo by fuzheado via Flickr

In Zimbabwe the minimum wage only applies for agricultural and domestic workers, and in South Africa, farm workers earn approximately $0.85 per hour. North Koreans average $2.5-5 a day while Latvia gives teenagers and those who work in dangerous conditions a higher rate ($3.01 compared to $2.63).

If Obama's proposed hike goes through, it will put the U.S. as the tenth highest minimum wage, edging the UK out of the top ten ($10.02), but the rise will only apply to future contracts, not those already in place.

You've reached your limit of free articles.

To read the full story, start your free trial today.

Get unlimited access. Cancel anytime.

Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.

Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries.

Ideas

A Writer's Advice For How To Read The Words Of Politics

Colombia's reformist president has promised to tackle endemic violence, economic exclusion, pollution and corruption in the country. So what's new with a politician's promises?

Image of Colombian President Gustavo Petro speaking during a press conference in Buenos Aires on Jan 14, 2023

Colombian President Gustavo Petro, speaks during a press conference in the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) Summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on January 24, 2023.

Manuel Cortina/ZUMA
Héctor Abad Faciolince

-Essay-

BOGOTÁ — Don't concentrate on his words, I was once advised, but look at what he's doing. I heard the words so long ago I cannot recall who said them. The point is, what's the use of a husband who vows never to beat his wife in January and leaves her with a bruised face in February?

Words are a strange thing, and in literal terms, we must distrust their meaning. As I never hit anyone, I have never declared that I wouldn't. It never occurred to me to say it. Strangely, there is more power and truth in a simple declaration like "I love her" than in the more emphatic "I love her so much." A verbal addition here just shrinks the "sense" of love.

Keep reading...Show less

You've reached your limit of free articles.

To read the full story, start your free trial today.

Get unlimited access. Cancel anytime.

Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.

Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries.

The latest